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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
Cafe Bleu
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 21 March 2018
Formed in early 1983 by ex-Jam frontman Paul Weller and keyboardist Mick Talbot, The Style Council were a strange phenomenon. Often derided by the cognoscenti, in many ways they were an experiment gone wrong. In many other ways, they were an excellent group that produced some great albums with a soulful, often adventurous sound and some biting, socially conscious lyrics.

As far as this album goes, it was as far away from The Jam as it was possible to get, really. This album was a brave mixture of soul stylings, contemporary jazz and a bit of rap influence thrown in. Some of the tracks are jazzy, piano-driven instrumentals like “Me Ship Came In” or smoky jazz like “Cafe Bleu”. Others feature guest artists like Tracey Thorn (from Everything But The Girl) on the lovely, late night jazz of “The Paris Match” and various guest instrumentalists on the rap-influenced “A Gospel” and “The Strength Of Your Nature”.

The hit single “My Ever Changing Moods” is stripped down to a soulful piano-only version, while the other hit, “You’re The Best Thing” features a different mix, with saxophone to the fore. “Headstart For Happiness” is a jaunty, upbeat poppy number which again shows this material is just nothing like anything The Jam put out, and all released just a few short months later. The sea change was really quite remarkable.

Where the Style Council had a problem was in the image they carefully created, swanning around in Paris in gaberdines, pictured sitting at cafes pretending to read “Le Monde” and drinking cappuccino, wearing dark glasses and so on. After Paul Weller’s gruff “man of the people/no bull” persona in The Jam, it all seemed very pretentious, contrived and just a little silly. It garnered a lot of ridicule, which was a shame, because the music was good. A brave experiment that deserved more credit.

This remaster is excellent too. Warm and clear. Personally, I have no problems with it. Available for only £3.99 too. Bargain.
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on 6 September 2000
The good news is that, presentation-wise, the folks at Polydor have done a good job with this reissue. The original LP jacket artwork has been restored, as have the lyrics and Cappucino Kid liner notes (part of an A5 booklet included with the LP, but missing from the original CD release), and the new liner notes are excellent.
The bad news is that it appears that the over-compressed remasters used for 'The Complete Adventures..." have been used here. At the time that set was released, the backlash against using tons of compression during mastering was still fairly new - and too late to have any impact on how the songs were remastered. With the gap of about two years between the release of the box set and the remastered TSC albums, I harbored some hope that perhaps they'd be re-remastered in order to remedy the over-compression. Sadly, the remastering credit indicates that this did not happen.
As a result, while the tracks do benefit somewhat from added presence and clarity, you'll risk ear fatigue rather quickly (it hit me during "My ever changing moods") if you don't keep the listening volume relatively low.
Of course, the music is still excellent, although "A gospel" is now somewhat dated. It's easy to forget how defiantly different 'Cafe Bleu' was at the time of its release, even as the music press briefly lumped TSC in with the emerging "new jazz" clique that also included Sade, Carmel, Working Week, and Everything But The Girl. The album contained a mix of 60s-influenced jazz, easy listening, and pop, and even rap and funk, that made it stand out from just about everything else on the charts.
There was also a sense of fun, freedom, and optimism that would be missing from the later albums. There were the print ads that cheekily proclaimed "Here come the classics" and "Contains no hit singles". There were the Cappucino Kid sleevenotes. There were Mick Talbot's instrumental rave-ups. There were the photos that showed Paul Weller almost smiling. And, of course, there was the willingness to follow one's passion, and not simply do things a certain way because that's how they'd always been done.
Not to mention that springtime has never been better...
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on 25 February 2015
Cafe Bleu is an album that refuses to be pigeonholed by one musical genre. Instead, it features elements of jazz, rap, and pop with all the trimming from this period. Whilst newcomers to The Style Council maybe aware of its standout hit single, You're the Best Thing, maybe in for a surprise at how broad and diverse the album that song comes from really is. It is usually the ones with the melodic emotional punch that stay with the listener, rather then the more particularly pop offerings, such as Strength of Your Nature.
Cafe Bleu is a musical oddity that works well, but may surprise those familiar with Paul Weller's other works beyond The Style Council at how broad and diverse their musical canvas really was back in their heyday.
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on 22 July 2017
Not had this since it first came out on Cassette tape ! Still a good record (cd)
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on 24 November 2017
As good as ever from Paul Weller et al
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on 14 March 2018
first class
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on 17 July 2015
Love this album. Knew it off by heart in my teenage years but had long since lost the vinyl copy Made me happy to hear the tracks again and amazed that all the lyrics were stored in my head from all those years ago. CD arrived promptly and in good condition.
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on 24 September 2017
very good album
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on 11 May 2016
Great sounding very soulful jazz hmmmmm great
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on 4 March 2016
Replacing an original vinyl version, forgotten how good they were.
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